Dani Pedrosa claimed his third victory of the season as the Repsol Honda rider came out on top at the Malaysian MotoGP at Sepang.

It was the perfect response from the Spanish star after Pedrosa's title hopes evaporated following a controversial incident at Aragon, where he was spat off his Honda after contact by team-mate Marc Marquez disabled the traction control system of his RC213V.

Rookie title favourite Marquez had to settle for the runner-up spot on this occasion, but extended his championship lead over Factory Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo, who completed the top three.

Early race leader Lorenzo and Marquez were involved in a fiery confrontation in the first third of the race as the pair swapped places in a duel for second place, with defending champion Lorenzo colliding with his Honda rival on lap six.

Marquez is now 43 points clear at the top and could lift the world crown at Phillip Island in Australia next weekend, while Pedrosa has closed the gap to Lorenzo in second place in the series standings to 11 points following his 25th MotoGP career win at Sepang.

Valentino Rossi was unable to fulfil his qualifying promise after starting from second place on the front row, eventually finishing a comfortable fourth ahead of Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista, who had the upper hand in his battle with Britain's Cal Crutchlow on the Yamaha Tech 3.

Bradley Smith rode an excellent race as the championship newcomer completed the top seven on the second Tech 3 M1.

Pole man Marquez made a slow getaway as Lorenzo - who started from fourth place on row two - and Pedrosa swapped places through the opening corners, with the Yamaha star attempting to make his customary early break.

Rossi made a brief pass on Marquez on the opening lap but ran wide, allowing the Repsol Honda star to reclaim the position as Bautista, Smith and Crutchlow completed the top six on lap one.

Michael Laverty, Colin Edwards and Hector Barbera received a time penalty for jumping the start and the trio were forced to complete a ride-through punishment.

Lorenzo was unable to shake off Pedrosa at the front, with Marquez, Rossi and Bautista running a hot pace in behind.

Less than a second separated the top five on the fourth lap, with Crutchlow in sixth slipping back as he struggled to match the leading group's pace on the M1.

Bautista almost rammed Rossi at the opening turn at the beginning of the fifth lap, with the mistake costing the Gresini Honda rider valuable time and gifting Rossi an advantage of around a second in fourth.

It seemed a matter of time before Lorenzo was forced to relinquish his lead and by the sixth lap both Repsol Honda riders had made their move.

Pedrosa took over with a pass at the last corner at the end of lap five before Marquez slipped underneath Lorenzo on the brakes at Turn one.

The Yamaha title challenger showed his fighting spirit as hit back to move swiftly back into second with a clinical move at Turn three.

There was then contact between the duo when Lorenzo bumped Marquez on the exit of Turn 10 after the title favourite had gone underneath with a trademark pass on the brakes.

With Lorenzo and Marquez disputing second, Pedrosa was able to open a gap of over half-a-second as he began to pull away at the front.

Rossi was unable to make an impact in fourth, although Crutchlow was now closing in on Bautista and took fifth place on the eighth lap.

Marquez seized second from Lorenzo once and for all on lap nine as Pedrosa nursed an advantage of almost two seconds and quickly put daylight between himself and Lorenzo, but Pedrosa looked in control as he managed the gap to his 20-year-old team-mate.

Bautista and Crutchlow were locked in a personal battle for fifth place, with Smith holding a safe sixth, well clear of Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso.

Lorenzo was dropping off the pace as his challenge faded, although Marquez was unable to make any significant headway on Pedrosa and appeared to settle for second place and a haul of 20 points.

The action was taking place behind the top four as Crutchlow and Bautista fought it out for fifth, with Bautista keeping a tight line at the hairpin on the final lap to deny the British rider.

Pedrosa celebrated his first win since Jerez at round three, taking the chequered flag with 2.757s in hand over Marquez, with Lorenzo almost a further four seconds in arrears.

Rossi - who carried a Marco Simoncelli tribute flag on his slowing down lap - bagged a solid fourth followed by Bautista and Crutchlow, with Smith seventh ahead of Dovizioso and Aleix Espargaro on the Power Electronics Aspar.

Yonny Hernandez rounded out the top ten on the Ignite Pramac Ducati.

American Nicky Hayden was forced out of the race with smoke emanating from his Desmosedici, while Andrea Iannone (Pramac Ducati) and Damian Cudlin on the PBM machine also failed to finish.

There was more bad luck for Paul Bird's team when Laverty went down at the hairpin as both PBM riders failed to finish for the second consecutive time.



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